EU nationals can come to Portugal as visitors and remain for up to 180 days, although after 90 days they must apply for an extension to remain as a visitor for a further 90 days or apply for a residence card ( autorização de residência).
Non EU nationals – Especially those from USA may arrive as tourists and are allowed a stay of up to 90 days. After that time, they must make an appointment to speak with SEF (The Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) and ask for an extension or apply for residency.
All non-employed residents must provide proof that they have an adequate income or financial resources to live in Portugal without working. A Portuguese bank statement showing a balance of around €3,000 generally suffices or a letter from a Portuguese bank manager stating that you regularly import money.
Non-EU nationals require copies of their bank statements and, if married, a statement from the husband certifying that he is supporting his wife (or from the wife is she’s the main breadwinner).
The minimum income necessary for EU nationals is roughly equivalent (there’s no official figure) to the Portuguese statutory minimum wage, which was €348.01 per month in 2001, or the amount Portugal provides to its citizens on social security programmes. Hopefully your income will be far greater than this, otherwise you will find it impossible to survive! If your income is fixed, you should be aware that it could be outstripped by rises in the cost of living.
EU nationals receiving a state pension from an EU country are entitled to subsidised health treatment in Portugal including free emergency treatment. If you’re in receipt of a state pension, you must show that you’ve transferred your state pension to Portugal and produce form E121 when registering with the regional office of Portuguese social security ( Centro Regional de Segurança Social). If you aren’t in receipt of a state pension or are a non-EU national, private health insurance is necessary.
This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Portugal.